Posters of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team inside a New York subway station were defaced with anti-gay slurs on Monday, the day after the team won the Women’s World Cup.
According to spokespeople for both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority an the New York Police Department, transit police were informed of the vandalism around 1:40 p.m. on Monday. They then discovered that someone had written “various derogatory anti-sexual orientation comments” over eight different posters hanging at the Bryant Park/Fifth Avenue subway station.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the case, but does not have any leads at this time, according to Gay City News.
MTA’s maintenance team went about removing the graffiti from the posters, promising to replace them if necessary.
“Hate has no place in the transit system and we work hard to make the subway a welcoming, safe environment for everyone,” MTA spokesperson Amanda Kwan said.
It is unclear whether the graffiti targeted certain players. There are five out LGBTQ players on the team: Megan Rapinoe, Tierna Davidson, Adrianna Franch, Ali Krieger, and her fiancée, Ashlyn Harris.
All five women have been open about their sexual orientation and outspoken about LGBTQ representation in sports, and teammate Kelley O’Hara publicly kissed her girlfriend after the team clinched the World Cup.
After the team beat France in the quarterfinals, Rapinoe told The Guardian: “Go gays! You can’t win a championship without gays on your team — it’s never been done before, ever. That’s science right there!”
She tweeted a similar message after winning the World Cup, writing: “Science is science. Gays rule,” sparking outrage from some Twitter users who questioned her logic and argued she should just play and not flaunt her orientation.
Harris echoed Rapinoe’s comments, tweeting: “GAYS rule. It’s science. And you are welcome.”
But the women’s team have also attracted some controversy due to their ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit and their demand for equal pay, which has ruffled a few feathers, particularly among conservatives, who argue that the women are overpaid.
However, the women argue that they are paid less than their male counterparts on the men’s national team despite winning more games, gaining higher TV ratings, and earning more money for the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The women — particularly outspoken co-captain Rapinoe — have also been vocal in their opposition to Donald Trump, which potentially could have motivated someone to vandalize the posters.
Rapinoe said during an interview with Eight by Eight last month, “No fuckin’ way will we be invited to the White House” if the team won the World Cup.
“[Trump] tries to avoid inviting a team that might decline,” Rapinoe said. “Or, like he did when the Warriors turned him down, he’ll claim they hadn’t been invited in the first place.”
Trump fired back, saying Rapinoe should “WIN first before she TALKS.”
Trump also said he would invite the team, regardless of whether they won or lost, saying Rapinoe “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
….invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019
Krieger has also been outspoken about Trump, defending Rapinoe’s comments in an interview with CNN, in which she said she refuses to respect “a man that warrants no respect.”
Despite the graffiti, the team appeared unaffected by any negative comments they’ve received during a ticker-tape parade to celebrate their victory, which was held in New York City on Wednesday.
Speaking from the steps of New York City Hall, Rapinoe gave a speech in which she charged people to “make this world a better place” and to “love more, hate less.”‘
“It’s every single person’s responsibility. There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that,” she said. “With our fight with the federation: I’m sorry for some of the things I’ve said, not all of the things. But it’s time to come together. … This is my charge to everybody. Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you’ve ever been before.”